Eakins calls for patience in Edmonton, whether fans ‘like it or not’


Fired yesterday by the Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Eakins had a tough message today for a frustrated fan base that’s already been waiting a long time to watch a winning hockey team:

“I can speak freely now, and like it or not, you need to be patient. … I understand being out of the playoffs for a long time, but the situation is the situation. … This organization is where it’s at. … The fans of this organization, you’ve suffered greatly. But I’m gonna tell you: you need to be patient.”

And according to Eakins, that show of patience needs to be extended to the team’s general manager.

“If anybody’s going to find the solution, it’s going to be Craig MacTavish,” he said.

While Oilers fans may not want to hear that they need to be even more patient than they’ve already been (what with Edmonton owning the longest playoff drought in the NHL and all), Eakins believes it was a lack of patience that hurt the team while he was behind the bench.

“We probably got ahead of ourselves a little bit, system wise,” he said, adding there “probably” should’ve been more focus on the “fundamentals of the game.”

As for all this talk “swirling” around Taylor Hall?

Eakins is frustrated by it.

“My experience has been a short one with Taylor,” he said. “But what I see from this young man is an amazing amount of growth in a year. I don’t know who Taylor was before I got here, but I know who he is now compared to when I came in last year. He’s maturing. He’s going to continue to mature. And as he grows into a fine young man, he’s going to turn into a great, great hockey player.”

Audio: Eakins on the need for patience

Revolving door of coaches makes Hall wonder what he’s done wrong


Taylor Hall is in his fifth NHL season and is getting ready to serve under his fourth bench boss after Dallas Eakins was fired on Monday. Eakins is just the latest coach to fail to lead the Oilers to even mediocrity and while he bears responsibility for that, he wasn’t the only one at fault.

“I got drafted by the Oilers and I love the franchise, I love the city,” said Hall, per the Edmonton Sun. “Standing here, having a new coach again, really makes you look in the mirror and wonder what you’ve done wrong.”

Hall is aware of the rumors suggesting that trading him might be one of Oilers GM Craig MacTavish’s next moves.

“I think everyone is going to be on watch, for sure,” Hall said.

“Everyone knows the importance of playing well for the new people in charge. If anyone understands that, it’s me. I haven’t been near as good as I can be.”

Hall’s production has been off this season, but over the last few years he’s nevertheless established himself as a top-tier forward. When reporting on the possibility of Hall being dealt, TSN’s Darren Dreger emphasized that the reason Hall might be traded isn’t necessary due to his work on the ice, but because he has become the face of Edmonton’s “sagging work ethic and a lack of culture.”

If nothing else, the Oilers’ culture problems don’t seem to be in dispute. As captain Andrew Ference put it on Dec. 1 following Edmonton’s 5-2 loss to Arizona, “To come here and have to eke pride out of guys to get out there and pay attention and do details … it’s not right. … It’s 100% unacceptable.”

Fast forward two weeks and Ference is saying that the Oilers’ fix is easy, provided the players mean it when they talk about taking the steps necessary to turn the team around.

“Dedicating yourself to a team and a system and doing what you’re told, playing the same way as your whole team, that’s a decision,” Ference said. “That’s something you can change and it doesn’t take years and years of practice. But everyone has to make that decision themselves.”


In firing Eakins, MacTavish admits there’s ‘blood all over my hands’

The definitive list of sad Dallas Eakins headlines

Welcome Taylor Hall to the trade rumor mill


After firing head coach Dallas Eakins Monday, GM Craig MacTavish alluded to more changes coming within the organization.

“We’ve got to make changes. To think this is a coaching issue would be naive,” he said. “It’s deeper rooted than that and we have to get to the core of it.”

What might those changes include? Well according to hockey insider Darren Dreger, it could include trading Taylor Hall.

Dreger appeared on TSN Radio 1050 Monday afternoon and suggested Hall’s issues come not on the ice, but in the room.

It’s not one player. It’s the collection of players that make up a sagging work ethic and a lack of culture, but if you wanted to put a face on it or name to it, that’d be Taylor Hall. Taylor Hall, at least again from a culture standpoint, more in the room, not necessarily on the ice, hasn’t been what they hoped he would be.

When MacTavish looks into his crystal ball and tries to see what might come his way via trade, he’s got to be looking to the trade deadline and then beyond that obviously looking at the draft floor. Because if you’re moving a piece like Taylor Hall, and I believe Taylor Hall will be in play, then the rate of return is always best when teams have flexibility in the summer.

So what would MacTavish look for in return for Hall?

The needs of the Edmonton Oilers is vast. Age-sensitive, absolutely. Has to fit in that dynamic.

What you’re getting is what you need most, is that a young goalie? Probably. Is it a center? Is it a top-pairing defenseman? Any of the above.

Edmonton’s issues don’t lie only on the ice or behind the bench, as we alluded to last month, the Oilers’ draft history is rather atrocious.

Dreger mentioned Monday that changes to the Oilers’ scouting staff could be coming.

Organizationally, there’s going to be a lot more change coming here in the near future. That scouting department is going to implode, I believe. When you look beyond picking in the Top 10 of the first round, when you look at the players they haven’t found in other rounds and things like that, that comes back to the scouting and the fundamentals of a foundation of an NHL organization. There’s a lot of change to come.

Change isn’t going to happen at the general manager’s level, Kevin Lowe’s level and it’s not going to happen at Bob Nicholson’s level. It’s going to happen within scouting and additional assistant coach change.

Edmonton, who has just one win in its’ last 16, begins a new chapter Tuesday night when they visit the Arizona Coyotes, who are winless in their last nine on home ice.

Dallas Eakins fired by Oilers


Apparently, last night’s listless loss to the New York Rangers was the final straw. The Edmonton Oilers have fired head coach Dallas Eakins.

GM Craig MacTavish will become the interim head coach, with Todd Nelson to transition into the role sometime during the season.

The move, first reported by TSN’s Darren Dreger, comes the day after the Oilers fell to 7-19-5, shut out by the visiting Rangers, while being held to just 16 shots. Edmonton has won just a single game in its last 16 outings.

Eakins was hired with much fanfare in the summer of 2013. At the time, it was hoped that the Oilers would emerge out of their rebuild and compete for a playoff spot. Instead, the team finished dead last in the Western Conference, a full 10 points behind Alberta rival Calgary, the second-to-last team. Along the way, the rookie NHL coach called a frustrated fan a “quitter”, got sprayed by a water bottle, and “didn’t even leave the house” after one particularly bad loss to the Flames.

It didn’t get much better in Eakins’ second season behind the bench. Though he insisted the Oilers were making progress, and players like Taylor Hall went to bat for him, the losses continued to pile up. And with MacTavish unable to consummate a significant trade, the coach was ultimately the one to pay the price.

Same old story: ‘A couple bad shifts killed us,’ says Oilers’ Taylor Hall


The Edmonton Oilers lost again. Once again, costly mistakes came back to haunt them. And when they were down and tried to mount a comeback, they were unsuccessful.

Against the Anaheim Ducks, the Oilers fell behind three goals, meaning the end of the night for goalie Viktor Fasth, who was furious when given the hook.

He slammed his helmet down on the bench and fired a few choice words to his teammates. The Oilers were flat in the first period, with just three shots on goal compared to 10 for Anaheim. They allowed two goals just 44 seconds apart less than a minute into the second period, which increased their deficit to three goals. When it was over, and despite a valiant comeback effort, Edmonton’s struggling NHL club lost to the Ducks by a final score of 4-2.

It’s the same old story.

Costly mistakes.

How, off the faceoff at center ice to begin the second period, could Kyle Palmieri find space between two defensemen to accept a breakaway pass just a few seconds after the puck was dropped?

How could Ryan Getzlaf, a big-time point producer in the NHL for years, be allowed to walk so freely toward the middle of the ice and let go a shot?

“I feel like I’ve said this eight times this year. A couple bad shifts killed us. Two Grade A chances at the start of the (second),” said Taylor Hall, as per the Oilers’ Twitter account.

The Oilers have now lost three in a row. They have one win, which came Dec. 7, in their last 15 games.